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Aug 09

DIY clip on sunglasses

Recently went to try to get a pair of those magnetic clip on sunglasses for my glasses. Optical store said sure, that’ll be $160, plus you have to leave the glasses for 1-2 weeks so we can send them off! So non-starter right there. What to do? Why not make your own!

The way the clip-ons work from the optical store is pairs of magnets, two on the sunglasses, two on the glasses frames. hold them together, click, the magnets keep the sunglasses on the glasses frames.

So how to reproduce this as a DIY? first, find some donor sunglasses to rip apart. Takes some art here. (STEAM rather than STEM per Adam Savage!). You’ve got to look at your own frames, where you could potentially fit magnets and look at the available donor sunglasses. The optical store clip-ons tend to use front facing magnets, but that’s hard to duplicate. Looked like top or side mounted magnets would work best and in fact, side mounted appears to be the easiest. Then you just need to find donor sunglasses that are just slightly wider than your glasses frames with enough gap to stick in a magnet on each side.

To give you an idea, here’s what my final sunglasses look like:

here's the sunglasses by themselves.  note magnets on the temples.  corresponding magnets positioned inside the glasses frames.

here’s the sunglasses by themselves. note magnets on the temples. corresponding magnets positioned inside the glasses frames.


Note that part of the dissection of the donor sunglasses involved removing the nose-pads. they’re redundant in this application!

Here’s a closer look at the magnet mounting on the sunglasses:

Here you can see the magnet attached to the sunglasses.  Bit of black plastic from an old project box to adjust the cap between sunglasses and glasses frame.

Here you can see the magnet attached to the sunglasses. Bit of black plastic from an old project box to adjust the cap between sunglasses and glasses frame.


Note the black plastic between the magnet and the sunglasses frame. Needed a little something to space-fill the gap that was adjustable too (file the plastic down a bit if necessary). You can’t bend the temples of the sunglasses too much (fragile!) so better to gap fill with something rather than over-bend!

Now on the glasses side. That’s where you’ve got to do your pre-work. Just where to put the magnets here as this drives where you put the magnets on the sunglasses. Here you can see I had some flat space on the inside temple of the glasses.

sunglasses and frames separate here so you can see both magnets.

sunglasses and frames separate here so you can see both magnets.

In the end result, from the outside of the frames, you can hardly see the magnets:

Here the magnet attached inside the frame can be seen a little, but it's mostly hidden behind the frame

Here the magnet attached inside the frame can be seen a little, but it’s mostly hidden behind the frame

Bit of a tradeoff here. Larger magnets, more holding power, but harder to place and keep ‘hidden’. Go too small and the magnets won’t be strong enough to hold on the sunglasses. Speaking of magnets. I got mine from K&J Magnets. Specifically the D303 magnets 3/16″ dia. x 3/32″ thick because that’s the biggest size I could fit on my frames. Seems to work OK.

Final picture here showing the sunglasses mated to the glasses frames.

here's the final product.  sunglasses held to glasses frame with magnet on sunglasses (seen here) and magnet inside the glasses frame (not seen here)

here’s the final product. sunglasses held to glasses frame with magnet on sunglasses (seen here) and magnet inside the glasses frame (not seen here)

Overall a success. Less than $30 for the whole thing. The side mount like this is sub-optimal because the sunglasses rotate a bit on the cylindrical axis of the magnets, but keeping the sunglasses close to the eye glasses limits the amount of rotation to a reasonable amount. Top or front mount would have been better, but finding a sunglasses / glasses / magnet combination like that proved to be difficult. But hey, this works!

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